New laws, or removal and/or regulation thereof, make for new headaches for those trying to enforce all of those new rules and regulations.
Case in point: Melanie Brinegar was stopped in June for an expired license plate. Acting on a whim, even though she’d shown no signs before the stop, the officer suspected she was under the influence of cannabis. He decided to conduct field tests to find out. Unfortunately for Ms. Brinegar, she failed miserably.
Melanie told the officer she was ‘medicating,’ however, and that cannabis helped her focus and drive better; that it didn’t make her ‘high’. She is indeed a licensed medical marijuana patient. But because she failed the field tests, she was required to give a blood sample. It registered almost four times the legal blood-THC limit of 5 ng/ml.
When she took the incident to court, the jury sided with her. Why? Well, partially because many of the jurors couldn’t pass every last sobriety test Melanie had been given, and partially because they flat don’t see cannabis “impairment” as much of an impairment at all. In other words, many don’t see someone’s blood-THC levels as the be all, end all determination of their motor skills and cognitive functions. While legally she was high, she hadn’t shown to be impaired – and that is the key in juries’ eyes more and more often now.
They’re going by the facts – that alcohol has shown irrefutable proof of impairment in test after test, while THC just plain hasn’t.
Tom Raynes, head of the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council, has said, “You are putting lives in danger. I want the message to be understood. It’s about driving while under the influence of drugs — it’s not about recreational or medical. It’s about being impaired when you drive.”